Facebook has been quite vocal about the fact that it did not let third-party agencies access user data after it locked down the platform in 2015. That may not be true after all, as a new WSJ report has claimed, that Facebook did continue to share user data in secret with select ‘whitelisted’ companies, even after the apparent lock-down measures. Facebook has now admitted that it did indeed share user data with a small number of companies, in 2015, including RBC Capital Markets and Nissan Motor Co., advertisers and other business partners, seemingly confirming the report.
These whitelisted companies were allowed to see users’ friend lists, including the individual’s phone number as well as algorithmic ‘closeness’ to their online contacts. They had access to this data for weeks and months, in 2015, even after Facebook had locked out most third-party developers from the social network. These select extensions expired before the end of 2015, Facebook said, adding that it was done for improving user experiences, testing new features and finishing up ongoing feature tests. Facebook had previously denied such data sharing.
The revelation comes days after Facebook confirmed that it shared users’ data with four Chinese companies including the world’s third largest smartphone maker Huawei. “Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL were controlled from the get-go- and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built,” Facebook’s vice president of Mobile Partnership, Francisco Varela, had said after a New York Times report claimed that the social media giant had shared users’ friends information without their explicit consent. “Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei’s servers.”
Facebook has also revealed that a software bug caused the private posts of about 14 million users to be shared publicly, last month. The big, has since been fixed, it said.
Facebook is in the eye of the storm over privacy concerns. Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Cambridge Analytica served as Donald Trump’s data operations team during the 2016 election. The upstart has been accused of harvesting more than 50 million user profiles on Facebook with the help of academic researcher Aleksandr Kogan. Without any consent from users.